‘Son of God’ Movie Producer:
Technology Will Spread Gospel
Friday, 17 Jan 2014 02:11 PM
By Matt Bendell
Film producer Mark Burnett says his soon-to-be released movie “Son of God” will have a wide impact for Christian evangelism as modern technology brings the film about the life of Jesus to remote areas of the world.
“We believe in the decades to come, people in remote places will find Jesus through watching this movie on their iPhones,” Burnett told Newsmax in an exclusive interview.
“People in developing countries are getting telephones before they’re getting televisions. And they can watch this, in the decades to come, on their phone.”
Burnett is a highly successful Hollywood producer who last year turned from reality programming — such as “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Voice” — to making the box-office blockbuster “The Bible,” a 10-part miniseries that appeared on cable last February.
“We decided to take that success within Hollywood and use that influence to allow us to make films and television about our faith,” said Burnett, whose wife, actress Roma Downy, is co-producer of “Son of God,” which is set for release on February 28.
Burnett said he was warned not to make the switch to religious-themed productions.
“Many people said to us, ‘That’s probably a mistake, because you guys have very high ratings and we don’t think people want to watch the Bible on prime time television.'”
But Burnett said “The Bible” is still enjoying success nearly a year after its release, especially in the international market.
“It’s currently No. 1 in Hong Kong. It’s the No. 1 series on Channel 5 in England right now,” he said.
Burnett added that “100 million in America alone watched the Bible series” and “as many as a quarter of a billion people have probably seen that series.”
Burnett said “Son of God” could rival the reach of “Jesus,” the 1979 project of the Campus Crusade for Christ (now known as Cru), which the New York Times once described as the most-watched movie of all time
“We are now exploring distribution in foreign countries and we believe that this movie over the decades will be much like the Jesus movie that is translated into hundreds of languages and seen around the world,” Burnett said.
“The Jesus movie is 1979, this is 2014. Young people have moved with the times.”
Unlike the most recent big screen portrayal of Jesus — Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” which focused on the Crucifixion — “Son of God” will look at Jesus’ entire life, Burnett said.
“This movie deals with the birth, the mission, the miracles, and the trial, the Crucifixion. It deals with the Resurrection. It deals with the Ascension and it even deals with Revelation,” Burnett said.
Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide.org and chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, said films like “Son of God” can resonate with moviegoers regardless of their religious affiliation.
Baehr’s annual guide provides a comprehensive report to the top Hollywood studios highlighting the general acceptance of positive messages in films. And each year, it shows that films containing strong moral worldviews tend to perform the best.
“For instance, last year 90 percent of the top grossing, top 10 movies had a strong or very strong Christian, redemptive worldview,” Baehr said. “Superman goes to church to pray. Even Iron Man says that one of the villains is going to hell and the rest of the people are going to heaven.”
Karen Covell, founding director of the Hollywood Prayer Network, says that while Biblical films are not necessarily evangelistic or Christian, they can still have a positive impact for spreading the faith.
“I have seen the decision-makers in Hollywood more open to faith-based films if they can make money,” she said. “They are not interested in the content but the large audiences that they attract. So more films are being made based on the belief that they can make money. It’s business to them.”